Improved computers and higher bandwidth broadband connections make it possible to play casino games against live dealers nowadays. For live dealer blackjack, you’ll sit at a table with 7 players and watch as the cards are dealt – generally by an attractive lady! These games have an interactive chat element, and while not quite ‘real’ they are an entertaining gambling experience that was simply not possible until a couple of years ago.
This article explains how live dealer blackjack games work for players who are new to this format. I’ll start with finding and starting your live dealer game – including options for stakes and variations in blackjack rules. Next some information on card-counting is covered – many people incorrectly assume that the live game gives them an opportunity to do this. After that a note about free live dealer blackjack, before I note some of the options available for US-based players.
You’ll find live dealer games at many online casinos these days. I recommend using the download version for these games for a smoother experience. Once you download the casino and click the live dealer blackjack option – you will be taken to a separate lobby listing the tables along with the number of players on each. PlayTech casinos will also show you a picture of the dealer for each table. You can choose to join a waiting list for a specific game or if all the games are full a waiting list for the first seat to open up.
The online live-dealer blackjack tables are played with 7 players against the dealer. This does make them slower than the usual tables you play against the computer – as everyone needs to complete their play before the dealer completes her hand. There is a chat window to the side of each table, where you can interact with the other players. Some tables can get quite sociable, while others are quiet – or stick to compliments for nice hands or big wins.
Stakes are higher than for the standard online games, with a minimum of $5 and table maximum ranging from $50 up. Remember that you need some extra chips for when you have the potential for doubling-down or splitting hands. Since the dealer wages and setup of the live casino is an extra overhead for the casinos, these higher stakes help to balance their books.
I recommend you make sure you have a fast and stable broadband connection before you sit down to play live dealer blackjack. The only thing more annoying than having to repeatedly wait for a player with connection issues to act is to be that player who is disconnecting yourself!
Card counting has been around since the early 1960’s and involves keeping track of the proportion of small to large cards in the deck. When the big cards are the majority, a skilled player can turn the house edge into an edge of their own – and will increase their bet sizes to make a profit.
With modern live-dealer online blackjack games, 8 decks are used. With so many decks getting what is known as a good ‘true count’ is very hard. What methods like the Hi Opt 1 and Hi-Lo System do, is to divide the running count by the number of decks remaining. It is very rare to get a good enough count to make a profit when you have to divide by 6 or 7 each time. To make sure this stays difficult, live dealer blackjack games reshuffle the decks after 4 decks have been dealt.
Even if you did succeed in getting a positive true count, your sudden increase in bet sizes would be so obvious that you would be instantly caught.
As much as I’d like the answer to be otherwise, these games are simply not suitable for card counting players.
Since the casinos have to pay their dealers, you can’t play live dealer blackjack for play chips at the current time. Instead, I recommend that you use the welcome bonuses and free chip offers handed to loyal players as part of comps schemes to check out the live dealer games.
You’ll need to check the terms of your bonus first, as many casinos do not allow free play with bonus chips in these games. For those that do, you can check out the action with the casino’s money – and only use your own if you enjoy the game. With a solid strategy, you should be able to keep the house edge under 1% in this game – which makes it ideal for clearing bonuses or meeting play-through requirements on your promotional chips.
US based players do not have the wide choice of casino software providers available in other geos. Fortunately, there are still some solid options based offshore who are welcoming US players into their live dealer games. Two big name brands where you can find live-dealer blackjack action are BetOnline and 5Dimes. As the states individually allow online gambling with their own legislation, the number of casinos offering these games can only increase.